From Roller to Backpack

In my original “Packing for World Travel” post, I listed the Pacsafe roller bag LS21, both for its airline carryon size, as well as its security features such as knife deflecting wire mesh cloth, lockable pull tabs, and solid zippers that resist being pried open.

I made a last minute decision on the roller vs backpack – the roller won, and for 4 months this has served me well. I didn’t do any camping in Chile, and not in my 3-4 months in Peru.

But the 5th month was the change.

In August, I did 2 treks: the Inca Jungle Trek, and the true trek: a self-supported trek of the Lares Trek – one of the major Inca trails to Machu Picchu, but this time we figured out our own transport logistics, trail finding, camping and food hauling/cooking.

And it was a revelation.

Unlike many of the popular 14ers in Colorado, we had the trek mostly to ourselves, only occasionally meeting trekkers going the opposite way, and camping alone in stone formations, and drinking water from streams.

And hauling a rented, oversized backpack I realized I would do better with something a tad more custom.

So, I mailed my roller bag back home for 150 Soles, and bought a 60 liter Osprey Aether pack in Neptune Blue.

Arguments for a Roller

A couple weeks prior to leaving for Chile, I met a dental Hygienist who had done a fair bit of world travel herself who convinced me of taking a roller bag. ‘There’s never been a place where I couldn’t roll my roller – even dirt roads.” And, after months of watching travellers struggling with bags nearly as big as themselves I smugly thought I had made the correct decision.

And mostly, that was true.

Rolling my way through sidewalks, asphalt, cement, and yes, dirt roads, this seemed infinitely easier than carrying something on my back. And the security features gave me piece of mind as I threw this into the holding storage of busses and hostels.

The roller also gave me a tad more anonymity and freedom from the touts as they looked for the big backpacks that signalled the extranjeros here with their perceived big bucks naivete, whereas I rolled past them – another possible local on his way home.

And, if I restricted myself to just the cities and streets this would suit me well.

But that didn’t last.

From the first time I saw the towering peaks of Lares, and breathed the thin air above 15,000 feet I was hooked.

In Colorado I rarely backpacked. It was simply too convenient to do car camping. But, travel breaks you out of routines, and sipping hot chocolate in a stone cabin sans roof with the mountains, sky and stars as my companions – made me go, “Hot damn, why didn’t I do this more when I was in Colorado!”

And so I bought some new hiking boots, and a brand spanking new backpack and set sail for my new passion. It pairs well with my other passion of rock climbing, and I could see myself doing more alpine style assaults, with a possible try at a 6,000 meter active volcano near Arequipa, treks in Huaraz and simply camping in El Potrero.

I’ve been in Cusco too long – time to get out. This weekend we go to Vilcabamba!

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